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The Ph.D Link Building Course - Link Exchanges Part 2
Before diving into any exploration of a mutual link exchange, it is imperative that you have done your homework by using the tools already discussed to analyze where this site ranks. Another important factor that must be considered is the site's current link placement policy. If this site is burying the links at the bottom of their most pointless page, then it's obvious that it is going to be a really bad deal. Also look very carefully at all of the possible factors that are currently incorporated onto that site that could positively or negatively affect the efficacy of your mutual collaboration. Check how many outbound and inbound links are currently present. What is the quality of those inbound links? Are they coming from top-rated and directly relevant sites or are most of them originating in dead-end sites? That factor is going to have a major impact on the benefits that you are going to derive from this collaboration.
You might also want to pitch your prospective partner on the possibility of incorporating your own site's keywords directly into the text that is used to link back to you. They really have nothing to lose since it will not negatively affect them in any imaginable way, but it could certainly help your side. Therefore if your "surfboard" site focuses on "blunt noses" it might be a really good idea to slip that in there as either all or a portion of the anchor text that is used for linkage to you.
Less than ethical webmasters have come up with enough ways to mask links and make them Google-invisible to easily fill a book. There are some perfectly legitimate reasons why a webmaster would want to do something like this, such as ensuring that you don't get your proprietary scripts Googled, or having pages that are "invitation only." One of the ways of accomplishing this is to direct the linkage through a script that "redirects" the traffic. It's fairly easy to set up the redirect "incorrectly" and creating a path that Google can't follow. Furthermore, the huge red hexagonal Stop sign known as robots.txt can stop the Googling dead in its tracks. It is imperative to ensure that your new link exchange partner is not using any of this subterfuge in their dealings with your site, and if they are, they should provide full transparency in giving you access to everything that they're doing and why, so you can make an independent evaluation of whether you think you can get a fair deal.
Of course, you can't blame your partner for not wanting to dilute their site's PageRank by letting it all drip away to link exchange sites, but it's important to be really upfront about it all. You definitely don't want those links available throughout your site. The whole idea of getting traffic to your site is maximizing their "clickery" internally. Placing a "Links" button on every page of the site is a mistake that a surprising number of professional top-ranked sites make. That tiny little "Links" in the repeating menu frame on every single page of the site creates an association that can be followed from each and every page. If you have 8 items on your repeating menu frame that means that 12.5% of your PageRanking is directed to the links page. If half of the links on that page refer to exterior sites, then you're going to see a 6.25% loss of your PageRank. And that can make a big difference, dropping you down a full digit or even more. "Links" clicking really only belongs on your home page and nowhere else.
The best way to maximize the benefits of link exchanging is always to be extra careful and meticulous in the process of selecting who you're going to partner up with. If a deal is way too good to be true, you can bet that it's a major scam.